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Damian Green

Department: Home Office

Position: Minister of State for Immigration

Last Updated: Friday, December 17th, 2010

Damian Green was for the early part of his parliamentary career very much the great white hope of the moderate wing of the party (the Tory “Wets”, in 1980s parlance).

But his star has somewhat fallen in that respect, since he now finds himself outside the Cabinet (unlike Ken Clarke, who did of course return to the top table once the Conservatives were back in government) and because, starkly, he has also been overtaken by a new generation of “modernising” Tory moderates in the Cameron mould.

He has, however, thus far managed to confidently and competently carry out his ministerial duties in the notoriously difficult immigration brief – the job he had shadowed in opposition for nearly five years.

Damian Green was educated at Reading School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he took a first in PPE and his thirst for practical politics was more than evident. He was President of the Oxford Union (two terms after Benazir Bhutto) and also chaired the university’s branch of the recently-formed Tory Reform Group – Peter Walker’s vehicle for promoting One Nation Conservatism.

He then worked as a business and financial journalist variously at the BBC, The Times and Channel 4, before opting to pursue a political career.

He unsuccessfully stood against Ken Livingstone in Brent East in 1992 and then went to work in John Major’s Policy Unit before getting selected for the safe Kent constituency of Ashford in advance of the 1997 general election.

A Vice President of the Tory Reform Group since 1997, he surprised no- one by backing Ken Clarke in the 1997 leadership contest and within a year of his entering Parliament had been appointed to the frontbench as an education and employment spokesman, later working on the Environment/Transport brief during the Hague years.

He backed Portillo then Clarke in the 2001 leadership contest, but Iain Duncan Smith promoted him to the Shadow Cabinet as shadow education secretary, where he remained throughout the two years of the IDS leadership.

In 2003, Michael Howard moved him to the shadow transport brief, outside the Shadow Cabinet, at which point he took on the chairmanship of Parliamentary Mainstream, effectively the parliamentary wing of the TRG. A year later he resigned from the frontbench altogether (turning down the shadow constitutional affairs job), citing a concern that the party mustn’t return to a “core vote strategy” and that he wanted to argue the case for “compassionate conservatism”.

During that time he also struck up a political friendship with David Davis, which intrigued many observers, since their politics was historically poles apart. There was even talk that Green might have become party chairman under a Davis leadership.

Yet David Cameron’s election as party leader put paid to any thoughts of that, although Davis was able draft Green into his shadow home affairs team as shadow minister for immigration, a post which he retained all the way up until the general election, before getting the job for real in government.

Yet the thing for which Green will forever be remembered took place in November 2008: after being in receipt of leaked documents from a Home Office civil servant, he was arrested and questioned (while his house was searched and computers seized) on suspicion of “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office” and “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office”. He gained widespread sympathy across the political spectrum and it was not until April 2009 that the CPS announced that it would not be taking the case any further.

An interesting aside, given next year’s referendum, is that Green was once a supporter of Conservative Action for Electoral Reform. However, he rescinded his support for the cause after entering Parliament.

He is married to Alicia Collinson, a barrister, who in 2007 wrote Politics for Partners, a guide for MPs’ spouses. They have two daughters.

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